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Bloomberg: Romney's Vague and Frustrating Views on Afghanistan

April 22, 2012

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Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney finds himself in a policy conundrum on Afghanistan issues: His views are at times identical to Obama's, and at other times contradictory, write the editors of Bloomberg View.

Mitt Romney's position on the war in Afghanistan will be familiar to those who have followed him, or tried to, on health-care reform.

In both cases -- two of the biggest domestic and foreign policy issues of this year's election campaign -- he criticizes President Barack Obama for essentially having the same policy as Romney himself.

In the case of health care, Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, led the way to enactment of a plan centered on the notorious (to Republicans, anyway) "individual mandate." He even offered to advise Obama on how a similar plan might be implemented nationally. Romney now says the Obama plan, individual mandate and all, is dreadful, and he promises to stop the whole thing in its tracks his first day as president.

In the case of the war in Afghanistan, started by President George W. Bush and pursued with determination by Obama, Romney has not reversed his former views, possibly because he is new to the foreign policy game and has no former views. His current views, insofar as they can be divined, again appear almost identical to Obama's -- and where they're not, are contradictory.

Both men favor a deadline for withdrawal of American troops. Both say that deadline should be the end of 2014. Both acknowledge that some small number of troops will have to remain indefinitely. Romney has also said, as Obama has not, that full withdrawal should happen only when U.S. generals approve or "as soon as that mission is complete."

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